Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Line cooking is scary and hard. Goat cheese is awesome

Sunday night I made my first serious attempt at line cooking. Mostly pizzas but some salads, chicken strips, and "queso crispas" thrown in the mix too. It was very exciting and I can't wait to learn more.

There are four pizzas on the menu at The Jones:

Napoli: Pepperoni, Italian sausage, sauteed mushrooms and red and green peppers on tomato sauce with mozzarella. $13

Bianca: Sauced in roasted shallots and garlic , then topped lightly with mozzarella, parmesan, tomatoes and parsley. $12

Chevre: Prosciutto, goat cheese and scallions over bechamel and light mozzarella. $14

Caprese: Tomato sauce topped with fresh basil, roma tomatoes, mozzarella and a sweet balsamic drizzle. $12

Now of these four choices in my opinion the Napoli and Caprese seem pretty standard and boring save for the balsmic drizzle on the Caprese. The Bianca is slightly more intersting if only because it features an alternative to tomato sauce, but I'd say it still lacks personality. The Chevre on the other hand is awesome. You can never go wrong with goat cheese and to pair it with prosciutto, scallions and what's more bechamel instead of tomato sauce? That's a pizza you don't see everyday. If I was walking into the jones for the first time and I decided to order a pizza it wouldn't even be a difficult decision for me to pick the Chevre. However when I was making pizzas on Sunday we got orders for at least three or four each of all the other varieties but not a single one for Chevre. I can't think of a single time I've even seen someone else making one either. They must get orders for it every once in a while othewise it wouldn't stay on the menu, but it really should be the most popular. Maybe the bechamel scares some people off. That's the only potential reason for its lack of popularity I can think of.

Chevre and pesto are now on my very slowly growing list of foods that can be flung on anything to make them both delicious and resectable.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

I finally have a real full fledged callous

To my dismay ravioli has been temporarily discontinued due to problems with the pasta maker. I.e. the piece of shit broke after 3 weeks. So my favorite job is no more for the time being. Jason promises there will be a new ravioli recipe and production method soon though. However I've been learning how to do lots of new things to fill that void since I got back from vacation after a relative lull during the week beforehand. My skill set now includes making Pico de Gallo, vanilla ice cream, and lemon tart filling. Ice cream at The Jones contains 48 egg yolks per gallon. Plus I learned how to "French" rack of lamb today.

I think it was for a special but I have an ominous feeling that rack of lamb might find its way onto the menu. I say this because "frenching" rack of lamb is a real pain in the ass. You have to painstakingly scrape a thin layer of something that doesn't seem to be meat or fat off of every bone. Each bone takes about 2 minutes and each rack has roughly 8 bones. The entire process takes about 20 minutes per rack. I guess I'll just have to get better at it. I cut myself twice scraping lamb rack stuff today. Once deep enough that it bled.

edit: rack of lamb is now on the menu

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Fine dining in New York

Aaaaaaaand I'm back. New York, for those I haven't talked to, was incredible. Went to some very fine restaurants such as Nobu 57 and The Tasting Room. Highlights from Nobu include rock shrimp tempura, which was perfectly cooked so that it was just barely crispy with a creamy, spicy sauce. Then there was the rock lobster sashimi with caviar. That one might have been a little bit over priced but when you order off menu, rare clawless lobster with caviar that's the risk you take. I had real, fresh wasabi. Tried Kobe beef and bluefin tuna both for the first time. Both were unspeakably delicious but for all the hype I don't think that the bluefin had to steep an advantage over plain old yellowfin. The same is not true of the Kobe beef. The wild ocean trout was probably my favorite of the sashimi we had. The black cod with miso sauce deserves a mention too. Of the deserts we tried my favorite was the roasted rice pudding with ice cream which was served in a small metal pot over an open flame. I've decided that that meal is tied with my dinner at Rover's a couple years ago for my favorite ever.

The Tasting room was almost as good and not quite as memorable as Nobu. It is located in a tiny space (about 8 cramped tables) in a slightly grimy corner of lower Manhattan, within walking distance of where I was staying. They had best clam chowder I've ever tasted. It was light and not to salty or weighed down with potatoes so I could really taste the clams. The fish and beef courses we had were absolutely exquisite too but my memory of the details is a little bit hazy. We had a few deserts there, most notable in my opinion was the champagne and marzipan soup. It was completely unlike anything I have ever tasted. It was a soup, slightly warm slightly fizzy with the distinct and vaguely sweet flavors of (obviously) champagne and marzipan.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Boycott Caesar Salads

I am never going to order a Caesar salad at restaurant ever again and neither should you. These are the reasons:
I am going to spend
1. There are slight variations and different levels of quality, but for the most part if you've had a Caesar salad at 3-5 places you've had them all.
the rest of my life
2. They are on the menu at almost every restaurant in the world. Its lazy and unimaginative.
fantasizing about waitresses
3. There are infinite possibilities for new, interesting, and delicious salads, many of which will never be realized because people just want to wolf down romaine and croutons all the time. Looking back on all the salads I've eaten at restaurants at least 3/4 of them have been Caesar in nature. That's awfully depressing.
I don't have a chance with.
If I'm a guest at someone's house and they serve Caesar salad obviously I'm not going to be rude and refuse to eat it. I'm still going to have to make Caesar dressing, make croutons, and chop romaine at work. Not much I can do about that. but still...

Sure they're good, but its time for everyone to give something else a chance. Hopefully lots of other things.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Jones has a website

Can't believe I didn't find it sooner. Had to hear about it from my dad. Thejonesbistro.com. Not the best website ever, but once again far better than the one for Roxy's. It's only slightly out of date. Mainly just when it comes to the deserts.

In other news the "non-commercial" Kitchen Aid all purpose mixing machine couldn't handle the stress of being used about 30 times more than it would be in a typical household. It has been replaced with a huge hulking "intended for commercial use" machine that doesn't have attachments for kneading pasta dough or grating cheese. Now I have to use a hand crank to make pasta, which is lame. I didn't have to grate any cheese tonight but I'm worried its going to become a very unpleasant task. The cheese grating attachment on the kitchen aid could do about 5 pounds of cheese in about 2 minutes. Maybe doing that every other night is what broke it.

I think "DJ Kitchen Aid, the all purpose mixing machine" would be a great name for a DJ.

New server, bartender, chef, and hostess tonight. The chef's name is Veronica , which doesn't start with a J. That has me pretty pissed off. She seems nice though.

Monday, April 03, 2006

The birthday cake I made myself

It's a called a black forest torte. It turned out exceedingly rich.

Business is booming

Friday and Saturday at The Jones were every bit as busy as expected given the reviews. Friday night when my parents came in they had to wait in the bar a half hour for a table. Its an incredible thing to watch when a skilled chef is working quickly. It makes doing the dishes ever so slightly inspiring knowing that everyone of the dirty plates had a work of art on them a few minutes ago. More so when I come across plates with remnants of dishes that I had a hand in somewhere along the line. The Ravioli in particular gives me a good feeling.

My hours have been expanded yet again! I'm now working 5 days a week. That means full time and maybe even some overtime. And I'll actually get paid extra for overtime. Not like with those fucking crooks at college pro painters. If you ever need your house painted, don't hire College Pro. Their business revolves around taking advantage of college kids who just need jobs, paying them about 1/3rd the hourly rate of professional painters. I could go on and on.
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